Writing an APA Style Annotated Bibliography

Research papers written in the style specified by the American Psychological Association always require a list of sources, or a bibliography, to be included. Sometimes though, just listing the sources won't cut it, according to your professor. In that case, an APA annotated bibliography fits the bill. Adding the annotations allows your readers to understand your sources a little better and offers them a little insight into your own mindset as you wrote your paper.


The purpose of an annotated bibliography is to provide your readers with some insight into your research. An annotation can be a few sentences or even a few pages long, depending on what your professor is asking for. Usually a paragraph or two is sufficient. In the annotation, write what you thought of the source and its usefulness to you during your own research. Write whether the source swayed your own opinion in one direction or another. You should also always include a short summary of the source's argument in the annotation.


According to the 6th edition of the APA style manual, the annotated bibliography should appear at the end of the paper. The title "References" should be centered on the page, with citations listed below. Other general layout guidelines include typing the paper and printing it on standard-sized white paper with 1-inch margins all around. The bibliography should be double-spaced, like the rest of your essay. In APA format, the entire annotation should be indented one-half inch from the left margin underneath the original citation.

Citing Books and Articles

To cite all books and articles properly, you'll need as much of following information as possible: author, publisher, date of publication, place of publication and page numbers the work appears on.

A book citation is formatted this way: Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle. Location: Publisher.

An article citation will look a little different. For example: Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year). Title of article.Title of Periodical, volume number (issue number), pages.

Any time your citation moves onto a second line, indent the second and all subsequent lines, to create a hanging indent on the page. Your annotation will then appear flush with the original indentation of the source.

Citing Websites

The APA offers a simple way to change a print citation to an online citation. In almost every case, you need to follow the citation format for the print edition, then follow it with the website where you found the information.

For example, the citation of an article you found in an online magazine or periodical should look like this:

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article.Title of Online Periodical, volume number (issue number, if available). Retrieved from www.somewebsite.org (and the entire URL).